This past fall break, a group of 36 high school students and chaperones took a 10-day AP British Literature tour to the land of fish and chips—Great Britain.
The itinerary was designed mainly for the purpose of educating students in the art and history of British literature. Before the close of the 2012-2013 school year, upcoming juniors and seniors went through an application process to determine who would go on the trip. Within a few weeks, a mix of Juniors and Seniors were selected. A few months later, the students were off to England.
Being an AP English student, it was great to be in the actual place where the greatest playwright of all time lived.
The group touched down in the north, in the city of Manchester, booming with its modern architecture, fascinating museums, and home to the illustrious Manchester United Football Club. From Manchester, the group gradually traveled south, crossing through England’s verdant plains, through the beautiful and historic Lake District, and finishing their journey in London.
“I loved the little towns we visited,” says junior Randi Nishida. “Though they were in the middle of nowhere, the grounds that surrounded them were just so beautiful. I could see how the poets were inspired to write because of the changing autumn leaves, the rolling hills, and placid lakes.”
Early in the trip, the group toured through the small lake town of Bowness-On-Windermere and took a boat tour of Lake Windermere. “There were many nice cottages and little castle remnants along the lakeside. The boat tour was a great start to our Lake District tour,” Nishida adds. Famous poets like William Wordsworth found inspiration for their works there.
The following day, the group visited the town of Grasmere, where Wordsworth lived and is buried. Upon arriving at little towns like Grasmere, students were given time to eat lunch at the local pubs and cafes, and mingle with the townsfolk. “The best part about the countryside was exploring during our free time,” says senior Micah Ito. “It was great to see the cultural differences: the way people talk, the things they eat, and just the way they carry themselves.”
Over the course of their time in the English countryside, the students visited literary and historical landmarks like Wordsworth’s Rydal Mount cottage, the great-walled city of York, Skipton Castle, and the Brontë Parsonage.
After the Lake District, the students made their way to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. “I thought it was pretty interesting. Being an AP English student, it was great to be in the actual place where the greatest playwright of all time lived,” says senior Randall Baniaga. At the end of their tour of Shakespeare’s birth house, the students were in for a little treat. In the courtyard was a group of actors who could perform any part of Shakespeare’s plays by audience request. These actors went on to perform scenes from Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet.
On the road to London, the group took a side stop that was not originally on the itinerary to see the Stonehenge, one of the world’s ancient wonders. Some students were disappointed at what they saw; To avoid any defacing of the ruins and injuries caused by large, falling stones, the Stonehenge is fenced off to visitors. “I thought we were going to be able to walk in the ruins themselves instead of around the outside,” says junior Kim Yamamoto. Other students, like senior Madison Davis, were impressed by its size and location. She says, “I liked how it was in the middle of nowhere. It had a mysterious vibe to it. It was just hard to think that people actually brought those stones from 250 miles away.”
A three-hour-long bus ride later, the group finally arrived in London. “Definitely, the best part of the trip was our time in London,” says junior Alyssa Settsu. The students started their London adventure with a trip through the Underground to the center of all-things-London, Piccadilly Circus. “I really enjoyed the fast-paced life and just the spirit of the London night scene,” adds Settsu.
For some students, the time spent in London was the highlight of their trip. In three days, the group covered a lot of ground: Windsor Castle, a bus tour through the city, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Buckingham Palace, a trip to London’s theater district, and even the iconic Abbey Road, where the Beatles took their famous album cover photo.
London’s shopping culture added to the city’s appeal. “My favorite part of the trip would have to be the shopping time spent with some of my closest friends. Everything there was so nice and being in another country just added to the vibe,” says junior Deanna Sanekane. From fashionable stores such as H&M and TopMan, to more commonplace stores such as Marks & Spencer, London’s shopping scene was energetic and full of options.
In London, the group’s primary source of transportation was the Underground. For many students, it was their first time traveling via the subway or the “Tube,” as locals call it.
Through the duration of the trip, students were required to take a few minutes out of their day to complete daily journal assignments. The assignments not only helped the students reflect on what they learned throughout the trip, but they also helped the students interact with those in a different grade. “The daily journal assignments allowed us to cherish those special moments. The journals will definitely be a keepsake that will allow me to recollect the fun experiences on the trip,” says senior David Nakanishi.
Photographs by Walden Butay (’14).
The Fells and Howes of the Lake District